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What is the correct term for the habit or action of rubbing statues' parts (noses, fingers, feet etc.) for luck or other superstitious reasons? I mean a learned word, like 'philately' for 'collecting stamps'. I'm fairly certain there is such a term, but for the life of me I can't recall what it is, and my Google-fu proved unequal to the task.

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Don't go to Prague ! –  Frank Jun 18 at 18:08
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The term is statuary frottage. Not to be confused with statutory frottage. –  John Lawler Jun 18 at 18:12
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@Frank: I'm willing to concede that he just thought of it. –  Robusto Jun 18 at 18:18
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@Robusto: yes, I've been fond of telling classes that I'm not there to orient them, but to occidize them. –  John Lawler Jun 18 at 20:30
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I've looked for this special term but with no luck. Instead here are three links which lists the superstitious rites people perform on statues (it's not only rubbing, but kissing, spinning and stroking!) 1) lists-galore.com/2008/10/… 2) roadsideamerica.com/story/16084 3) Italian superstitions –  Mari-Lou A Jun 19 at 18:31

2 Answers 2

I think superstitious is the correct term for this practice.

In some parts of Asia I'd say it's more religious praxis; or just traditional, if you like.

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No, this is a general term covering a wide range of beliefs and practices, for instance belief in lucky numbers or hanging up horseshoes. –  Anton Tykhyy Jun 18 at 19:42
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@AntonTykhyy You may find the term too general, but it's unlikely that you'll find a more specific term in English. –  ghoppe Jun 18 at 20:02

I would call it statue burnishing or statue rubbing. Roadside America has an article titled: Statue Burnishing Etiquette.

I don't think you'll find single word for this practice.

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